Amanda Marron was in her last year of active-duty service with the United States Navy, stationed in Sicily, when she found out that the anti-gay policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be repealed and gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers would soon be free to serve openly. As a member of the NAS Sigonella Heritage Committee, Amanda was responsible for helping plan the Navy’s diversity celebrations, including Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. She was overjoyed that servicemembers would soon be able to openly celebrate LGBT Pride Month.
However, some of the reactions from her fellow service members shocked her. The level of vitriol that some people expressed when discussing the repeal inspired Amanda, who is bisexual, into becoming more involved in the movement for LGBT equality—and specifically the fight to ensure that all Americans are protected against this kind of discrimination under the law.
“I couldn’t believe the things they said,” Amanda said. “Like, ‘oh, now I might have to share a berthing … or I might have to share my bathroom.’ I thought, ‘You’re already sharing your berthing, you’re already sharing your bathroom, the only thing that might change is someone might feel more comfortable coming out to you.”
Amanda decided to stay in Jacksonville after she left the service, and she now works as a veteran and civilian for the NAS Jax Multi-Cultural Council. As a civilian she was quickly struck by the fact that while the Navy was taking steps to protect service members from discrimination, those who step off the base enter a city where they can be discriminated against.
Soon, she learned that some advocates were working to change that. When the fight to pass Jacksonville’s LGBT-inclusive Human Rights Ordinance started up in 2012, Amanda watched it unfold, but she didn’t quite know how to get involved. Then, she noticed one particular group of advocates was missing: veterans. No veterans were speaking out—LGBT or otherwise. That disparity didn’t represent her or any of her Navy friends.
This time around, she decided to make her voice heard. She knows that Jacksonville is ready for this change – and she knows that folks who do not support the Human Rights Ordinance likely don’t understand its fundamental goal: To put everyone on the same playing field.
“All we’re looking for is level playing field,” she explained. “LGBT people don’t have the same rights. We can be not hired or fired, denied housing, and refused service at a restaurant or any business, like it’s the 1960s. All Americans should be equal, but currently under the law we aren’t.”